PM explains why he shuns opposition leaders facing graft charges

Published November 5, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during the programme.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during the programme.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said he had no personal enmity with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari but he intentionally avoided meeting the opposition leaders facing corruption charges.

He urged scholars and writers to save the youth and children from X-rated content in social media by promoting principles of Islam and the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

“People ask me that I do not shake hands with the opposition leader. He [opposition leader] is facing corruption cases of billions of rupees. If I shake hands I make it [the crime] acceptable in society,” the prime minister said in his address at the inauguration of ‘Hall of Fame’ at Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL).

In an apparent reference to the Sharifs and Bhutto-Zardaris, the prime minister termed the sharp decline in the country’s morality and ethics the biggest crisis and said he was always asked why he was after “two big families”.

“I don’t have anything personal against them, in fact I used to be friends with them. A nation dies when it loses the ability to differentiate between good and bad [...]. When you see something wrong and don’t call it out, that means that your decline has begun,” he added.

Prime Minister Khan said the revolution the Holy Prophet based was on morality, to encourage the good and to condemn the bad. “Money has no standing in the British parliament, unlike the Senate of Pakistan where there are countless allegations of horse-trading,” he added.

He said the country was faced with two challenges: the first being that people had accepted corruption and the second was social media. Citing the example of the United Kingdom, he said a parliamentarian who was facing corruption allegations was neither invited to TV programmes nor allowed to enter parliament until he was cleared of the charges.

The prime minister said that in the age of social media with unrestricted content available, huge responsibility lied on intellectuals to guide the nation on preserving moral and ethical values. “Social media is a reality and we cannot put restrictions on it. However, the scholars and intellectuals can inspire the people to distinguish between the right and the wrong.”

Mr Khan said that through the power of words and pens, the intellectuals could help protect the ideology of a nation. He regretted that moral and ethical values were gradually eroding, thus giving space for corruption and said it was necessary to inform the younger generation of this revolution as they were facing “immense pressure” due to social media and mainstream media in general.

“Today, a child has access to content through his mobile phone, which on one hand provides knowledge and is positive, but on the other it’s X-rated. That’s why the country’s scholars, TV and film producers have a great responsibility towards the younger generation,” he added.

“You can’t close down social media. It is a reality,” he said, adding that several times he had been informed about objectionable content on social media. “While we can’t stop social media, we can equip our children with the necessary information and teach them how to deal with such content,” he urged.

According to police, he said, sex crimes were on the rise in the country. “Three years ago, the entire nation stood up for [justice in] the Zainab case. Now you read the newspapers and see a multitude of such news, but there is no reaction,” he added.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the standards of Pakistani films, the prime minister said their material films was being sourced from Bollywood, which had taken it from Hollywood. “We don’t envisage the repercussions of the culture that is coming in.”

Mr Khan said rape culture had been promoted in the country due to sneaking of Indian culture. “Indian films have changed drastically over the last few decades. New Delhi is called the rape capital. We take in that culture and it has its effects. So, this is where scholars come in and have to guide the society,” he added.

The prime minister said the main objective of establishing the Rehmatullil Alameen Authority was to develop a deeper understanding of Sunnah, besides preservation of the Islamic identity, values and culture in the face of diverse social and digital media influences.

Emphasising the need for an “intellectual revolution” in the country, he said the government would fully honour the scholars and promote them.

The prime minister termed the establishment of ‘Hall of Fame’ at PAL a step towards acknowledging the contribution of writers and intellectuals.

Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said the government’s initiatives for promotion of arts and literature in the country were in line with strengthening the prime minister’s vision of a ‘Naya Pakistan’.

The event was attended by Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz and a large number of writers, poets and intellectuals.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2021

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